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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

On this day, King Hezekiah, the greatest of all the Judeaen kings, fell seriously ill, and was informed by the Prophet Isaiah that he would die, for G-d was displeased with the fact that Hezekiah had never married.

Hezekiah had refused to get married because he had prophetically foreseen that his children would lead the Jewish people to sin. He erred, for it is man's job to heed the commandment of procreating, and the rest is in the hands of G-d.

Hezekiah asked the prophet to pray on his behalf, but he refused, insisting that the Heavenly decree was final. The king asked the prophet to leave, saying that he had a tradition from his ancestors that one should never despair, even if a sharp sword is drawn across one's throat. The king prayed to G-d, and his prayer was accepted. G-d sent Isaiah to tell him that he would recover and that his life would be extended for fifteen years. Hezekiah recovered three days later, on the first day of Passover.

The King later married Prophet Isaiah's daughter.

Links:
Hezekiah's Last Years of Reign
The story in Kings II with commentary
More about King Hezekiah

A year following the building of the second Temple in Jerusalem (see Jewish History for the 3rd of Adar) Ezra gathered many of the Jews who had remained in Babylon and began a journey to the land of Israel. Though he certainly wanted to go earlier, his teacher, Baruch ben Neriah was too frail to travel, and Ezra refused to leave him until his passing.

Ezra was the head of the Sanhedrin, who all traveled together with him.

On the 12th of Nissan, Ezra departed from the river of Ahava, the beginning of the long journey to the land of Israel which would last for nearly five months (see Jewish history for the 1st of Av).

Links:
Account of event in Ezra
Ezra the Scribe

Laws and Customs

The "Fast of the Firstborn," usually held to the 14th of Nissan (the day before Passover) is this year moved ahead to today because of the sanctity of Shabbat.

Firstborn males over the age of Bar Mitzvah (13) are obligated to fast in recognition of the fact that during the "Plague of the Firstborn" (which occurred at midnight of Nissan 15) G-d "passed over" the Jewish firstborn when He killed all firstborn Egyptians. If there is a firstborn male in the family under 13, the obligation to fast rests with the father. The prevailing custom, however, is for the firstborn or father to exempt himself from the obligation to fast by participating in a seudat mitzvah (a meal marking the fulfillment of a mitzvah), such as a siyyum--a festive meal celebrating the conclusion of the study of a section of Torah.

In today's "Nasi" reading (see "Nasi of the Day" in Nissan 1), we read of the gift bought by the nasi of the tribe of Naftali, Achira ben Enan, for the inauguration of the Mishkan.

Text of today's Nasi in Hebrew and English.

In preparation for the festival of Passover, in which even the possession of any form of leavened food ("chametz") is strictly forbidden, a final search is conducted after nightfall to remove every last crumb of chametz from our homes and property. (The search for chametz ois usually conducted on the night before Passover, but this year, the search is moved ahead by one day because of the sanctity of Shabbat.)

Click here for a step-by-step "Getting-Rid-of-Chametz" wizard (including special instructions pertaining to a year on which Passover begins on Saturday night). Click here for instructions on how to conduct the search, and here for the time for searching chametz in your location.

Links:
Sell your chametz online
About Leaven

Daily Thought

Every day since we first set foot from Ramses is another day of leaving Egypt.

As soon as you stop leaving, you are back there again.